UN official says Afghan supplies low, seeks help

A top World Health Organization official says the agency only has “a few days left of supplies” for Afghanistan and wants help to ferry in 10 or 12 planeloads of equipment and medicine for its beleaguered people.

Afghans gather on a roadside near the military part of the airport in Kabul on August 20, 2021, hoping to flee from the country after the Taliban’s military takeover of Afghanistan. (Wakil KOHSAR / AFP)

Dr. Rick Brennan heads WHO’s eastern Mediterranean region that includes Afghanistan. He says from Cairo that the UN health agency is negotiating with the US and other countries to help efforts to replenish strained stockpiles.

“We estimate we’ve only got a few days left of supplies,” Brennan says, alluding to a distribution center in Dubai that has what’s needed. “We have 500 metric tons ready to go, but we haven’t got any way of getting them into the country right now.”

Brennan says US and other authorities have encouraged WHO and partners to look to other Afghan airports than Kabul’s, which is facing a crush of thousands of people trying to get out of Afghanistan after a Taliban takeover.

He says those authorities “have suggested that it’ll be too difficult a logistics exercise and security exercise to bring supplies into Kabul,” where teams would be required to unload planes and allow in trucks to carry out the supplies — which could complicate the evacuations.

Needed supplies include emergency kits and essential medicines for treatment of chronic diseases, like diabetes, the WHO says.

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